Cacha Cacha (CLOSED)

  • Restaurants
  • Asian
  • Thai
11 Sanlitun Lu

This venue has closed.

Corrugated steel sheets, neon signs and the unmistakable aromas of Southeast Asia beckon from a quiet corner of Taikoo Li North’s sunken courtyard. The sign reads Cacha Cacha, in that vaguely Thai-looking script that those illiterate in the southern tongue (like us) will recognise thanks to that Chang beer poster your college roommate brought back from Koh Phangan after the full moon party that literally changed his life (us again).


It's been a while since we’ve been excited about a new opening in the quieter side of Taikoo Li, but this new concept, brought over from Hong Kong, is aimed squarely at livening up the area with the complex, high-energy flavours of the northern Thai city of Changmai.


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The interior is a mash-up of a sanitised urban food court, a roadside truck stop and a Hong Kong diner, with its steel rivet-bound tables, mismatched sheet-metal chairs and vintage posters. The décor does come on strong, but a dash of unbridled enthusiasm can be a good thing, and the sounds and smells issuing from the open kitchen that flanks the length of the dining room are lively and welcoming.


The menu covers plenty of Thai standards, but also some more obscure specialities. We dive headfirst into a plate of puu nim tort prik thai dam (68RMB). Chunks of deep-fried soft-shell crab, coated generously with chopped dried squid, are topped with fried garlic and finely ground black pepper. The crab could be crispier, but the fresh, mild crabmeat mingles well with the deep-sea essence imparted by the squid-crumbs – the perfect match for a frosty Chang beer (38RMB). We wash down the crabs with a hot and sour dtom yun gung (68RMB) garnished with prawns. The soup packs a surprising heat that builds between sips, evidence of a well-developed broth with layered spices. Next, a bite of the house-made sai oua sausage (78RMB) is hot-tangy porky poetry. The top-quality pork continues with the best khor muu nahm dtok pork neck salad (58RMB) we’ve had in Beijing. Slices of juicy marinated meat are bathed in vinegar, fish sauce, chopped chillies and fresh coriander – packed with flavour.


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Things start to get really serious with the curries, particularly the gung gari (168RMB). The simmered tiger prawns with curry and Chinese celery glisten in the basin of creamy, saffron-coloured curry; pools of red chilli oil encircle the massive whole prawns like hungry sharks, but they haven’t got a prayer. The prawns are slightly tough, with a texture closer to lobster than shrimp, but the smouldering heat from the chilli-laced curry benefits from the extra chewing, allowing flavour to develop that would otherwise end up lost down the hatch. The beef brisket, geng keaw wan nuer (88RMB), is meltingly tender and rich with the full spectrum of beefy flavours, elevated by the spice of the mild green curry. Like most of the a la carte items, it comes with a hefty price tag for the modest portion, and we expect frequenters of Thailand will scoff at the cost of what, in its native land, is cheap fast food. All of this is true, but given its location, quality of ingredients and authenticity of offerings, we can’t imagine it being much cheaper. Thai-starved penny pitchers should try the lunch sets that combine some of the best dishes with a starter and drink from 68RMB.


For some killer renditions of Thai favourites, Cacha Cacha has few rivals, and, with its central Sanlitun location and enticing lunch deal, we’ll be sure to make this a regular spot for a casual lunch or evening escape to the tropics.

Venue name: Cacha Cacha (CLOSED)
Contact:
Opening hours: Open 11am-10pm daily.
English address: NLG-45 Taikoo Li North 11 Sanlitun Lu Chaoyang district
Chinese address: 朝阳区三里屯太 古里北区地下一层NLG-45
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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